I read and re-read Job. It is Old Testament poetry at its finest and as such finds its conclusion not in the story itself, but in the new covenant in the New Testament.
When one looks at the speeches of the friends, one can easily parallel them with some from our time. One can see a paradigm of existentialism, legalism, and spiritualism in them. I haven't really got Bildad nailed down yet, but the others do fit the three categories listed.
So what of Job? What of us? Into our lives often come people with existential, legalistic, and hyper-spiritual responses. Let's say something bad happens to you through no fault of your own.
Here comes the legalist (no, these are not in order of the characters - hey, you've got to be willing to do some digging on your own) who just knows you sinned. After all, nothing bad happens to people unless they have sinned. God would not do that or allow that to a "righteous" person.
Then there is the existentialist - always sharing from the base of his/her experience. I hear it in one who referenced a past position to almost every conversation. In fact, some of us used to put down minutes as to how far the conversation would proceed before we heard, "now when I was at....". Your current situation is always laid beside their experience. They live backward.
Last is the "Spiritualist" - "Brother, you just need to get right with God." No know-it-all like a spiritual one, is there?
Job is called upon by God to pray for these people. They were not really speaking for God. They were speaking for themselves and the worst deception of all had occurred: they thought they were speaking for God.
Human nature does not change. But at this point in the history of salvation, Christ and the New Covenant were yet to come. We live of the "after" side of the coming of Christ and the New Covenant.
So we learn in the NT that some do indeed suffer unjustly. Some suffer for Christ. Others "fill up what remains" in the suffering of Christ for the sake of the church. The references are many but the blog post is not a concordance. What shall we say?
Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 1:3-11 and the following few chapters words of wisdom regarding suffering and reconciliation. These are for our instruction. The inspired writings of Job are an example to us (1 Cor. 10). But here (2 Cor. 1-5) is how we are to "do life".
God comforts us in our affliction. One of the reasons is that we may offer comfort to others who are afflicted. Encouragement is a huge ministry to the hurting, regardless of the reason for the hurt.
We are cautioned in 1 Cor. 4:5 to not judge anything prematurely. Leave it in the hands of God.
Although human nature has not changed, ours has. For each of us who have embraced Jesus and believe in sufficiency of Scripture, there is purpose in any suffering. The level of the injury may indeed determine the length of the trial, etc., but by the grace of God we are comforted, and in our comfort, may indeed comfort others.
An immediate application is ministers who have experienced forced termination. Are you "beyond it"? There is help. And when you heal, and your family heals (and you will if you so choose), then God will use you to mentor and minister to others. Some you will never know. Your mentoring may be preventative. Others you will walk through the same valley again, only this time you will be the human comforter.
Job's friends are still with us. But thank God we live on this side of the Cross!!